Comment Press – Paragraph level comments

Comment Press is a WordPress plugin that allows for paragraph level commenting of texts and pages on the blog. Produced by the Institute for the Future of the Book, Comment Press is meant to facilitate collaboration around longer, more complex texts which require a finer degree of granularity in annotation and commenting.

The interface for comment press is fairly straightforward, the primary text runs along the left and the comment box along the right. The comment box tracks up and down as the page is scrolled. Small icons are associated with each paragraph of the main text and allow someone to click and apply a comment to just that paragraph; or an ueber icon allows the user to comment on the text as a whole. While this is quite an interesting improvement, I wonder why the paragraph was chosen as the optimal unit of commenting. Sure, it’s a good trade-off because paragraphs aren’t usually too long, but still, how would this look if people could really get down to the sentence or even the phrase or word level? To support the broadest range of texts and behaviors it seems like the user should be able to select an arbitrary length of text and then apply a comment at whatever level of granularity makes most sense. This of course greatly increases the complexity of the interface needed to display and browse what could become quite a messy set of annotations.

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